(ca) wrote: "As long as Seraphim falls, as long as Gibraltar stands, 'till Hell freezes over, I'll always be your man!" No, enough of this cheesy, '80s Chicago nonsense, because this is man's man western if there ever was one, pilgrims! Who will win in this intense battle between one the "007" fans' least favorite James Bonds and Bryan Mills/Aslan the Lion God/Darkman/Obi-Wan Kenobi's master/Batman's master/Hannibal from the "A-Team"/Zeus? ...Oh yeah, my money's definitely on James Bond, no question, and you don't think that he's cool enough to take on Liam Neeson, just look at what Pierce Brosnon a year later: "Mamma Mia!". Wow, these are two huge names, yet the film still did laughably at the box office, probably either because they did what I did and compared the two leads' level of toughness, and concluded that the fight was too be predictable to be worth watching, or simply because they heard that the fight is hardly ever as exciting as one might hope it would be. "Seraphim Falls Asleep"! No, the film is engaging just fine, but for only so long, before it gets to limping, typically into other issues, and untypically into exposition. The characterization ambiguity is intentional, as background development is all in a pretty solid twist, but that lack of immediate background, and only so much gradual exposition, distances you a bit from the narrative, almost as much as, of all things, the story's being recognizable, to be so undercooked. Genuinely refreshing elements to this story shine a light on the conventional elements, of which there are many, and this in turn shines a light on the story's having only so much meat to begin with. This is a biting story with plenty of potential, but it doesn't have much scope, or dramatic weight to all of its tension, due to the intentional expository limitations that limit a sense of urgency, though not nearly as much as pacing issue. These problems in pacing are decidedly the biggest, partly because the dragging leaves eventual shifts in plotting to jar, and largely because the hunting sequences are particularly overdrawn, with an extensiveness that comes to lose impact after a while, especially when backed by a quiet directorial intensity which gradually loses the intensity. Director David Von Ancken's somber atmospheric intensity is often effective, but when it's not, the film slips into some serious dry spells that are anything from blanding to all-out dull, retarding momentum fiercely, making it hard enough to deny drowsiness, much less the many other, more subtle shortcomings. There are problems all throughout the film, and while they are often subtle, as well as well-challenged by the strengths, their sheer consistency leaves them to stand firm in wearing the drama down, until is collapses short of its full potential, limited though it may be. Nevertheless, the final product engages the patient, not as rewarding, but still as plenty engaging, even aesthetically. The talented Harry Gregson-Williams' score is underused and formulaic, but biting with its often lovely, subtle intensity, just as John Toll's cinematography, despite its not being all that playful with coloration, is handsomely well-lit and intimately emphatic of the settings of this fairly environmental thriller. This subtly sharp visual style does, in fact, help in immersing you in a sense of adventure, which is still tightened up quite a bit, for the sake of a certain intimacy which the performers drive with about as much consistency as anything or anyone. There are plenty of decent supporting performances, but it's still the leads who are most effective, with Liam Neeson being chilling as a clearly burdened man seeking some kind of brutal closure, while Pierce Brosnan delivers on an engaging balance between the anxiety which sells his hunted character's fear, and the sternness which sells a competence that makes Brosnan's role harder to predict the more the Gideon character displays just how challenging of a chase he truly is. Neeson's and Brosnan's clashing charismas beget a certain fierce chemistry, even with the leads' rarely being onscreen together, anchoring much depth that does justice to a story that is indeed pretty intriguing, at least in concept. This story is formulaic in a lot of ways, and unique in others, as a realist portrait on a manhunt, and on the many subcultures found throughout the land of post-Civil War Nevada, which ultimately comes down to some thought-provoking themes on humanity and vengeance that solidify a promising story, messily handled though it may be. Of course, although misguided in a lot of ways, David Von Ancken's direction is generally effective with its unflinching, if a little gratuitous attention to disturbing imagery and violence, and to extensive actions during a manhunt, anchored by a certain thoughtfulness that is often dull, and just about just as often effective in establishing tension, maybe even a hint of resonance. The final product is plenty compelling, just not as compelling as it could have been, and while the final product falls shy of rewarding, it engages enough to intrigue, and occasionally really hit the patient, I'm sure. When the hunt is finished, underdevelopment and certain conventions make it difficult to disregard certain natural shortcomings to this minimalist adventure drama, while excessive dragging and some seriously blanding dry spells secure an underwhelmingness that is still challenged well enough by solid scoring and cinematography, strong performances by Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan, and an intriguing story concept, often done justice by highlights in David Von Ancken's direction, to make "Seraphim Falls" a decent and often biting, if flawed western chase thriller. 2.75/5 - Decent
(ca) wrote: Revenge movie starring Val Kilmer as McPherson, an ex-Marine that lost a leg in Iraq, however his life was saved by mexican colleague Miguel. Fast forward 2 years, Miguel invites McPherson to live in the border town of New Lago, with his wife and kids. But when he arrives the place is deserted and nobody seems to remember Miguel's family. When McPherson starts to ask questions the owner of the town corporation and the sheriff get upset. This is a sort of a very childlish thriller, the plot reminds me of some episodes of the A Team, the characters are divided between extremely good guys and extremely bad blokes. It is also the archetypical story of a fair man against a corrupted town that wins with the help of the vulnerable but strong female and some villagers that still have some sense of justice. It is indeed very predictable, but actually was slightly better than expected, With a bit of TLC and a better quality this would have been an ok movie, as it is is just another low budget violent film that, logically, didn't make it to the cinemas and went straight into DVD.